CHICAGO -- Maybe the key for Daniel Murphy (Murph) is his eyes.Murphy smacked a two-run homer, Kyle Schwarber (Schwarbs) added a two-run blast and Javier Baez (El Mago) hit an opposite-field shot to power the Cubs to a 10-6 victory over the Reds on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.:: Players'
CHICAGO -- Maybe the key for Daniel Murphy (Murph) is his eyes.
Murphy smacked a two-run homer, Kyle Schwarber (Schwarbs) added a two-run blast and Javier Baez (El Mago) hit an opposite-field shot to power the Cubs to a 10-6 victory over the Reds on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
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Baez added a two-run single in the seventh to raise his National League-leading RBI total to 97 and boost the Cubs (75-53) to a season-high 22-games over .500. They're also 4-0 since Murphy arrived.
This was Murphy's fourth straight game batting first since the Cubs acquired him from the Nationals, and he's the ninth leadoff man used by manager Joe Maddon (Pino) this season. He homered for the second straight game, and he is now 7-for-19 with two homers, five RBIs and four runs scored in four games with the Cubs.
"We had really good at-bats all day long, up and down the batting order, really engaged," Maddon said. "Daniel has definitely brought some energy to the team, offensively."
Murphy's career batting average at Wrigley Field is now .407, highest among all active players who have a minimum of 100 at-bats.
"I feel like day games, if I'm able to get this old body going, I feel I see the ball better during the day," Murphy said. "I've seen something before that said people who have darker eyes see the ball better during the day and lighter eyes struggle a little bit. I'm pretty sure my eyes are pretty dark."
What about those night postseason games with the Mets back in 2015?
"I was in a really good lineup," Murphy said.
In the second inning, the veteran connected with two outs on an 0-1 changeup from Reds starter Luis Castillo (La Piedra), dropping it into the basket rimming the right-field bleachers.
Murphy also showed off his glove work in the Reds' third inning when he snared a line drive by Jose Peraza (El Llanero) for the second out. The crowd of 41,205 gave Murphy a nice round of applause.
"They must have been as surprised as I was when I caught it," Murphy said.
Murphy is aware of the importance of having a good leadoff batter, even if he hasn't gotten a hit yet to open a game with the Cubs.
"My goal is to grind out at-bats and just try to put on as good an at-bat against the opposing pitcher that I can," Murphy said. "After seeing this lineup, everybody is doing it up and down the lineup, and I think that's why we've been able to get the traffic on the basepaths the last few days."
"Murph is setting the tone for the whole group," Maddon said.
Jose Quintana (Lelo) won in spite of a difficult 36-pitch fourth inning. The left-hander scattered six hits over five-plus innings, and he was lifted after walking Phillip Ervin (Magic) to open the sixth. He has managed to escape jams, and he was holding teams to a .205 average with runners in scoring position.
"From the sideline, there's no finish on the fastball," Maddon said. "It's probably rest more than anything. It's not necessarily a mechanical adjustment. He just has to be more accurate with his location of his elevated fastball."
Quintana said he felt fine. What happened in the fourth?
"I lost the leadoff man, and I think the big problem was the walk to Ervin," Quintana said. "My command was good, but I kept fighting the whole inning. It was a battle for me. Today, most important, we got the 'W.' I'll get rest today and be ready for the sweep tomorrow."
"He was hanging on the edges," Reds manager Jim Riggleman said of Quintana. "He's a pro. He managed his way through it and minimized the damage. He was probably thinking it wasn't his prettiest day, but he minimized the damage."
The Reds made it interesting in the eighth when Curt Casali (Cas) hit a three-run homer and pinch-hitter Preston Tucker (Tuck) followed with a solo shot off Brandon Kintzler (Salt).
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Big bopper:Willson Contreras (Willy the Beast) was hit by a 95.3-mph fastball on his left knee in the second, but he stayed in the game. He then looked fine in the fourth when he doubled to lead off. Schwarber followed with his 23rd home run off a 3-1 pitch from Castillo. All of his big flies have come off right-handed pitchers.
What impressed Murphy the most about Schwarber, though, was when he drew a walk with one out in the seventh against lefty Wandy Peralta.
"I've been really impressed with how much they walk," Murphy said of his new teammates. "I don't walk a ton, I don't really have that club in my bag. These guys have great at-bats. Schwarber's at-bat against the lefty was special and really fun to watch from the side."
Magic: Baez led off the fifth with his 28th home run, launching a 1-1 changeup from Amir Garrett (AG) to the opposite field. An NL Most Valuable Player Award candidate, Baez added two more RBIs in the seventh with a single. He's 12-for-26 with three homers and eight RBIs in his past six games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Quintana struggled through a 36-pitch fourth inning, giving up runs on a sacrifice fly by Casali and an RBI single by Castillo. But the pitcher redeemed himself in the fifth. After Peraza singled to lead off, Quintana got Scooter Gennett (Dal3) to hit into a 3-6-1 double play.
Baez was part of that play, and he's another player Murphy is getting to know.
"It's been a treat to play next to Javy and see how smooth he is over there," Murphy said. "I've tried to watch how he hunts ground balls and see if I can add that to my game as well.
"He sees everything," Murphy said of Baez. "You know how good and how slow the game is moving for him on the opposing side, but to play next to him for the last four days, it's really moving slow for him. He's the captain out there, he's the quarterback and he's putting everybody in position."
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HE SAID IT
"I think he's only going to help. I thought we were really good today, and I think we've been really good this series in grinding out at-bats. We're putting traffic out there each inning, it feels like." -- Murphy, on what it will be like when Kristopher Bryant (KB) returns from the disabled list
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Kyle Hendricks (Hendo) will close the four-game series against the Reds on Sunday. Hendricks (9-10, 4.04 ERA) deserved better after his last start, in which he held the Tigers to two runs over seven innings. The right-hander has given up three or fewer runs in 20 of his 26 starts. He's 0-1 in two starts vs. the Reds, giving up seven earned runs over 10 2/3 innings. Cincinnati will counter with Homer Bailey (1-11, 6.21 ERA). First pitch from Wrigley Field is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.